Friday Fictioneers – Temptation

Every week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields (thank you, Rochelle!) hosts a flash fiction challenge, to write a complete story, based on a photoprompt, with a beginning, middle and end, in 100 words or less. Post it on your blog, and include the Photoprompt and Inlinkz (Join the Party) on your page. Link your story URL. Then the fun starts as you read other peoples’ stories and comment on them!

FF - Temptation 190703

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Temptation

“You alright, Martha?”

I nod, make an effort to smile. Yesterday, the hospital gave me the Bad Diagnosis. Nothing they can do. Weeks, not months.

I sit at the check-out; might as well be at work as anyplace else.

My heart sinks. Mister Asshole is in line. Why does he always pick me? Today, he’s worse than usual. “The ‘Best Before’ date is today; give me a discount.” “The prices on the shelves are wrong; I should only pay the marked price, come look at the shelf.”

I sigh, remain polite – and leave the loaded pistol in my handbag unused.

Join the Party 

63 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers – Temptation

  1. I’ve worked a grocery store cash register back in the days before computers. There were people who always came in with a bellicose attitude, determined to find something to fuss over. You learn to roll with it 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. There’s at least one such customer in every store, ain’t there?
    People often forget that cashiers have lives, worries, aches, feelings, needs… A few months ago I saw one of the cashiers in my neighborhood supermarket standing behind her register, very visibly pregnant, massaging the small of her back. I asked her if it’d help her to be seated. She nodded but glanced in the direction of the manager. I know how it goes — sometimes cashiers aren’t allowed to sit, or there isn’t any way for them to do so, which in effect makes it so they must stand.
    I went to the manager in his little windowed box after I’d paid for my groceries and asked – as kindly as I could – if he could please supply her with a chair or something of the like. “I see her and I think of my pregnant niece,” I said, “and I hope where she works they let her sit … a pregnant lady really should not be standing for so long.” The manager mumbled something about change of shifts and her not having asked. I smiled again and said “Perhaps she didn’t have time to ask when her shift began, but I do thank you so much for taking care of it.” … He sort of nodded an assent and when I poked my head in the next day, she grinned at me. She had a folding bar-stool-height-chair thing.
    For the record, I don’t think the manager was cruel. I think he was clueless. Small things matter.
    I hope someone offers a small kindness to the cashier in your story. And I hope her loaded gun remains unused.
    Na’ama

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Anyone who has worked in a shop or restaurant knows this feeling! Fortunately very few do or say what they really want to to people like Mister Asshole. I’m glad she left the pistol alone, I think she would have regretted it if she had been tempted.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I applaud her for still being her lovely self, not giving in to temptation, not going out in a hateful flash but with dignitiy. I’m one of the asshole customers who complain when the bill isn’t right, but I usually grab someone at the information desk or ask the cashier who can help me with the inconsistency.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Gabi
      Thank you for reading, and for such a lovely warm, humane comment. Yes, Martha was wise to choose the peaceful response. Her action made the world just a little bit better.
      I don’t think it’s asshole behaviour to complain when the bill isn’t right, as long as one is courteous and treats the cashier with dignity!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t expect the gun. And now there are so many questions. Does she always carry, or is this related to her diagnosis. Is it intended for herself should the going get rough? Will she truly be tempted, since she already has a life sentence, to exterminate the assholes? Provocative!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear D
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’m glad you found the story thought provoking. You’re asking just the sort of questions I hoped my story would prompt – thank you!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Needs a lot of courage to go to work after a bad diagnosis. If you have only few weeks, why not tolerate the irritating customer? Who is this loaded gun for?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Abhijit
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Isn’t it interesting that while most of us wonder why on earth a check-out lady would carry a loaded gun, citizens of the USA don’t find it worth questioning? It’s commonplace to them.
      There are many reasons why you might decide not to tolerate the irritating customer if you only had a few weeks to live. Nothing that’s likely to happen to you as a result is going to be worse than what you already face, so why not let them know how you feel? Or shoot them? (Yeah, well that’s going a bit far, but it makes the point, doesn’t it?)
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Like

    • Dear Ali
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Martha habitually carried a firearm, although I don’t expect she could give you a reason beyond, “Well, it’s for self-defence, of course.”
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, the joys of working with the public – how many days I’ve felt like this … Your story is a personal drama, a character study and possible opening for a thriller – not bad going in 100 words! Perfectly paced and structured, you capture character and context succinctly without the story feeling hurried or cluttered. Brilliantly done, Penny

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Penny, they’ll need a mop and bucket in the checkout area if she actions her thoughts. What a difficult situation, highlighting that we really never know another person’s struggles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear kzmcb
      Thank you for reading and commenting. No, we never know another person’s struggles. We should tread lightly and respect everybody – even the assholes of this world!
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Like

  9. I wonder why she had a pistol in her handbag. Was it for self-defense, or was she planning to kill herself? In Martha’s place, with only a few more weeks to live, I doubt I would’ve resisted the temptation to shoot Mister A-hole. I worked in customer service for several years, and encountered my fair share of rude, disrespectful characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Magarisa
      Thank you for reading and commenting. Martha habitually carried a firearm, although I don’t expect she could give you a reason beyond, “Well, it’s for self-defence, of course.”
      With best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Penny,
        I suppose Martha lives in the U.S., specifically in a state where many others habitually carry handguns. Your story raises the interesting question of how common it is for people to continue acting in an ethical and lawful manner when facing impending death. For those who perform illegal and/or unethical acts in the face of death, one can conclude that only the fear of earthly punishment prevented them from carrying out such acts earlier.
        Best wishes,
        Mags

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Mags
      I love when I get comments like this! It shows that the story has sparked serious thought, and many of my stories aim to do that. In fact, the initial story idea was exactly that thought – if there was little or no chance of significant punishment, how many people would avoid committing an anti-social action? My own answer was that I felt a large majority wouldn’t commit the anti-social act for all sorts of reasons. Being good people is one reason, of course. Then there’s peer group pressure; apprehension about supernatural judgement; fear of humiliation probably comes into it with some people. There’s a raft of reasons.
      Life and people are fascinating, aren’t they!
      Once again, thank you for your comments!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Penny,
        In my first comment, I wrote that I probably wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation of shooting someone who was rude to me if I had only a few weeks or months to live, but now that I think about it, I don’t think I would actually shoot the person. I have always avoided inflicting pain on others, so why would I suddenly start doing so?
        Yes, your story has certainly sparked serious thought.
        Best wishes,
        Mags

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Mags
      I confess that I raised my eyebrows when I read your original comment that you would shoot the A.Hole! You hadn’t seemed particularly belligerent in the past! It seems much more in character that you wouldn’t shoot because you would want to avoid inflicting pain. I like you better for your compassion!
      With very best wishes
      Penny

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You highlight well the danger of carrying guns. A few days ago I sat talking with a gentleman who was terminally ill, only a few days to live. So very sad, this was story well told

    Like

  11. The first thing I appreciate is that the customer’s complaint is about date, time, which she’s run out of. I also appreciate that even though she’s literally at the end of her rope, she doesn’t inflict pain on others. Very well done!

    Like

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